In a quest to field a standalone under-18 team in 2020, Avenel Football Club is calling out for all under-18 players interested in donning the red and white next season.
After merging its junior squad midway through the 2019 season with nearby Longwood due to low numbers, the Swans have their minds firmly on the future as they set about rebuilding their junior list.
And leading the charge next year will be coach Tylah Long, who takes on his first coaching role with the club.
“I was approached by people at the club, so I decided to take it up,” Long said.
“I'm just a couple years older than these kids, so they thought I would be able to do a good job.”
Long has a long history with the thirds, playing his junior career with the team as well as captaining the side; and, he'll be taking this leadership experience into his coaching role, intent on helping his former team up the ladder.
“We hope to have a standalone team, but it's the recruiting that is the hard part,” Long said.
“We're putting in the work and hope to get a couple more players on board.”
As for his goals for the season, Long said he would place a real emphasis on bringing the team together.
“We will try to get the balance of teaching the players something and having fun,” Long said.
“If we can get the numbers, I'm sure we will have a good year.”
With the landscape of junior football in the district difficult terrain to navigate with various teams fighting for limited numbers, Long said it was important for the club to push for a successful junior program.
“Once you finish under-18, you try and hold onto these kids, as they are the future of the club,” Long said.
“Seymour bringing in under-16s, and all these other junior teams, makes it hard. Especially if these kids have mates playing in Nagambie or Seymour.
“But we're really big on being a family club, it's very welcoming. It's really ‘one club, one dream'.”
Assisting Long next season will be Rhys Saultry, who joined the club at the beginning of the 2019 season.
In what is also his first coaching role, Saultry said he had always held an interest in doing some sort of coaching.
“I think I have a personality that gets the best out of kids,” Saultry said.
“I want to teach them the basic things for being successful later on. It's all about creating that good environment.”
Saultry said he was excited for the prospect of developing the team alongside Long.
“The under-18s team used to be quite strong but has struggled to put together a team, so it's exciting to develop that team,” Saultry said.
“The under-18s follow through to reserves and seniors, and it puts the club in a strong place.”
● Avenel's under-18 team will start pre-season tonight, from 6.30 pm at Avenel Recreation Reserve. There will also be a ‘meet the coaches’ barbecue at the club on Wednesday, December 11. The club is also happy to do training sessions in Seymour for those interested.
For more details phone Tylah Long on 0423 231 164.